Questioning Identity at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts This Fall

Mummy of Irthorru, Late Period, 26th Dynasty, about 600 BC, EA 20745. © The Trustees of the British Museum.


The theme of identity is a thread that weaves through time at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ (MMFA) upcoming fall exhibitions. Spanning the mediums of archaeology, painting, and photography, the MMFA’s autumnal offerings dive into the nuances of human identity—from the lives of priestess singers in ancient Egypt to the commodification of women in colonial photography. These exhibitions, intersecting both time and cultures, are a prelude to the opening of the new Arts of One World collection, which will collate World and Mediterranean archaeology objects within the Stéphan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery Wing as of November. Here, we recommend three such exhibitions that “[intersect] perspectives from the ancient and modern worlds,” explains Nathalie Bondil, the MMFA’s director general and chief curator.


Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives

September 14, 2019–February 2, 2020

Montreal marks the first North American stop of this internationally acclaimed exhibition from the British Museum, which reveals the complex lives of six mummified individuals who lived along the Nile between 900 BCE and 180 CE. The exhibition, housed on the second level of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion, combines art, archaeology, and 3-D digital imaging technology to explore the lives and deaths of a man, a boy, two priestess singers, a priest, and a homemaker. From their eating habits to their social ranking, these details help to reveal the customs entirely unique to ancient Egypt, as well as the stark uniformity of the human condition across the ages.



Alinka Echeverría, Fieldnotes for Nicephora, from the series Nicephora, 2015- ongoing, collage on archival mount board comprised of postcards, paper, card, photocopies, 50 x 37 cm. ©Alinka Echeverría, 2016 / Résidence BMW au musée Nicéphore Niépce.


Simulacres: Alinka Echeverría

September 5–December 1, 2019

The relationship between object and image is considered in the 16th edition of Momenta | Biennale de l’image, a contemporary art biennale that takes place across the galleries of Montreal. This year sees 39 artists from 20 countries displayed in 13 exhibitions, including the MMFA’s Quebec premiere of Mexican-British artist Alinka Echeverría’s Nicephora project, at the Graphic Arts Centre in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion. Named after the feminine version of French photography pioneer Nicéphore Niépce’s name, the work reframes the narrative of colonial photography through a feminist perspective. Using the MMFA’s collection of vases along with archived colonial photographs of women, Echeverría illustrates the historical tendency to commodify women through photographs, and ultimately challenges the long-lived narrative through archival research, collages, and 3-D renderings.



Omar Ba (born in 1977), Afrique, pillage, arbres, richesse [Africa, Looting, Trees, Wealth], 2014, oil, gouache, ink and crayon on corrugated cardboard. MMFA, purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest. © Omar Ba. Courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery.

Omar Ba: Same Dream

Until November 10, 2019

Senegalese-born contemporary artist Omar Ba’s first solo exhibition is a world unto itself, detailed in the vibrant hues of his paintings, as well as a large-scale mural applied directly onto one of the gallery walls of the Contemporary Art Square, in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion. Within his work, Ba consolidates his two homes, Senegal and Switzerland, through the use of both African and European artistic techniques ranging from the historical to the contemporary. Sweeping both time and culture, Ba builds a personal narrative through colourful displays of flora, fauna, and figures, while also appealing to larger issues: global inequality, immigration crises, and the complex relationship between people and nature.


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